Save Your Time And Judgment When You See Me Roll Up In My Gas Guzzler

by Kate Chapman
Originally Published: 
MilosStankovic / iStock

Dear Hybrid Owner,

I see you in your precious tiny efficiency bubble, silently gliding about town, a shining example of conserving resources and loving Mother Earth back.

I see you watching me park my behemoth SUV in the coffee shop lot. You check me out as I dismount from the driver’s seat. You and your reusable cup are wondering why I’d make such a gluttonous choice. Why, in this day of rapidly disappearing ice caps and limited resources, would I drive the residential version of an 18-wheeler?

Do you wonder if it’s about status? Maybe I drive this huge black SUV with tinted windows in the hopes that I might be mistaken for a federal agent or elected official. Maybe it’s important to me to sit high above everyone else, like a road-tripping queen surveying her carpool kingdom. Maybe I simply ascribe to the über-American “bigger is better” trend and drive this truck because I want to do my part to make America great again.

You’re sure I don’t care about the environment. How could I? You imagine the inside of my car, littered with Styrofoam cups, incandescent lightbulbs, and batteries I’m planning to dump in a landfill.

You’re wrong. The truth is, I hate this car too. I drive it because my life took a left-turn, and I ended up with six children. This huge SUV is the only vehicle on the consumer market that fits our family and more than one suitcase. I’m stuck.

This monstrosity is a ridiculous hindrance. It doesn’t fit anywhere; I dinged three doors before my second (okay, third) cup of coffee this morning. The rearview camera and dinging “oh shit, you’re much, much muchmuchmuch too close” backup indicator make me feel like I’m landing a plane. I can’t take the pressure, so I turn them off. I back into stuff more often than my husband is comfortable knowing about.

The inside of this car is so big we once lost the dog. He’d wedged in behind the third row and fallen asleep. It was only after we’d returned to the park, thinking we’d left him, that we heard him snoring. We routinely perform scientific studies of decay under the seats of this car: Carrots get gray and mushy while chicken nuggets look remarkably fresh, even weeks after we can remember driving through.

The children vault over the seats as though they’re training for the men’s gymnastics pommel horse. The interior affords so much room it’s only about every third time that Jack kicks Lottie in the face, and we throw the 1,000 paper napkins we’ve stashed in the console 30 feet back to her to stop the bleeding.

The noise in this rolling romper room is deafening: Shouting is the only way for someone in the way, way back to communicate that, even though they didn’t have to go at all 10 minutes ago when we stopped, they have to pee. Also, they probably can’t hold it.

Ads for this land shark suggest that one need only push a button to collapse the seats and load in any manner of cargo. Want to take your washer and dryer out for a spin on this beautiful day? Load ‘em up — they’ll fit. Truth? Collapsing the backseats and maximizing cargo space is a feat we’ve accomplished twice. It was every bit as physically taxing as birthing my 10-pound baby, and resulted in far less marital joy and connection. Trust me.

Don’t even get me on what it costs to drive around town. If I spent half of what we spend on this car on my physical appearance, Sofía Vergara and I would be twinsies.

This huge SUV is a traveling guilt-mobile. It guzzles gas faster than you could shoot a water cannon at a pipeline protestor. It has an enormous environmental impact that pains me deeply. I am wildly passionate about protecting the environment. We practice water conservation, keep bees, recycle, and compost. I am your tree-hugging sister at heart. And yet here I am.

Save your time and judgment, girlfriend. I’d much rather have what you’re having. And one day, when I am not driving half a dozen people around town, I will.

Until then, I’ll be here in the parking lot, searching the third row for my reusable coffee cup.

Love and Energy-Efficient Light,

A (Very) Reluctant SUV Driver

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